As part of our ‘Experts with water’ vlog series, we caught up with Sue Illman of Illman Young Landscape Design at Ecobuild 2015.
What are your views on Ecobuild 2015?
Well, I have to say, I always enjoy Ecobuild for the range of things that are happening here. I often get very much involved in all the conference and seminar sessions. So it’s finding the space to actually drag myself away and get a chance and go and look around actually what’s on the stands. But you always find something that’s new and interesting that you really should have known about ages ago. So yeah, I’m looking forward to getting out there and having a good look around.
How important is the management of water in new developments?
Absolutely fundamental, I mean, I couldn’t overstate it at all. You know, we’ve experienced the issue of flooding in this country and we have seen it since 2007 on a huge scale. I mean, I live in Gloucestershire, 2007, we had four weeks with no water supply. I mean, how bad does it get? And we’ve seen that repeated around the country numerous times. And in the main, what we’re seeing is surface water flooding, because our traditional combined sewers just can’t cope with extreme events that we’re now getting with climate change that’s combining with river flooding. So the whole lot comes together and is causing big problems and it’s only going to get worse. So, absolutely fundamentally important.
How do we address surface water run offs in an urban environment?
Well, it depends whether you’re talking about new build development or whether you’re talking about retrofitting because actually the approaches you take are really quite different. In an urban environment, it’s the same as anywhere else. The principles of designing a sustainable drainage are the same, it’s just that the way that you realize they are different when you’re looking at much higher land density. So we know that if we’re looking at 30 or 40 dwellings per hectare, which is not terribly dense, but it’s very typical, then that we can integrate SUDS into a scheme and using mainly soft systems but probably with some engineering and permanent paving.
We also know that if we’re looking at dealing with these schemes when you’re in a denser urban environment where you’re looking at 60, 70, 80 dwellings per hectare, or more, then you’ve got to be looking much more engineered systems because you just don’t have the space. But you can always get some soft stuff in there, always, always, always. You know, if you really want to. So, for me, it’s about looking at the opportunities. It’s about looking at the site and then actually coming up with a creative solution that maximizes the benefits that we can get.
So, let’s make it look great. Let’s make it really good for people in terms of improving the urban environment, not just in the vision amenity, but in what we’re going to do for urban heat island, what we’re going to do for air pollution, what we’re going to do for water pollution. Because we can put all those things together. We can get those multiple benefits. So, yeah, now let’s just be creative and solve all these problems and add to the quality of the environment.
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